infoTECH Feature

May 22, 2018

AI Addresses Age-old Information Overload Challenge

By Special Guest
Mika Javanainen, vice president of product management at M-Files

The amount of information that a business deals with on a daily basis doubles every 18 months, according to Gartner (News - Alert). On top of this, one of the primary symptoms of information overload is the inability for employees to quickly locate the most relevant data from their company’s countless systems like email, shared network folders, cloud applications, and more. In a Dimensional Research survey commissioned by M-Files, 85 percent of respondents reported they can’t find a document or file on a regular basis. 

To help solve information overload and allow employees to quickly find the content they need to do their jobs, companies are gravitating toward new intelligent information management approaches that leverage artificial intelligence and metadata to combat information overload. AI is poised to automate and simplify the manner in which users engage with their business information in two key ways: by automatically understanding and categorizing pieces of information, and by helping users focus on the most timely and relevant content.

AI understands what information is and categorizes it automatically. As users try to combat information overload without the proper means, they end up creating information silos – disparate, disconnected systems in which a business’s information resides. These silos result in too many locations to search through to find a desired file, as well as multiple versions of the same document in different locations. According to the Dimensional Research survey, employees waste valuable time looking for a document or a file – and often end up working off an outdated version, thus reinventing the wheel many times. 

To combat this, AI can create context with metadata between many different types of information, ranging from documents and other unstructured content (images, videos, etc.) to non-document objects, such as a customer account in the CRM system. By establishing content in context, AI allows users to search for content by what it is vs. where it’s stored and link that content to other related information, both structured and unstructured. AI also can distinguish between classes of documents such as contracts, reports, invoices, etc. and assign categories to those documents based on the departments they involve – legal, management, finance, etc. AI also automates processes such as informing specific stakeholders, triggering tasks, and initiating reviews.

For content that contains sensitive information, AI can support security efforts by encrypting that information, restricting access to only those who have the necessary qualifications, and preventing proliferation. This reduces the risks that stem from multiple documents stored in multiple locations and supports compliance efforts.

AI helps users focus on the most immediate and relevant content. Not only can AI automate how your information is categorized, but it can also simplify the way that you work with and manage your content. 

For example, if you have 100 unread emails, how can you process them most efficiently? It takes time to scan through them, pick out which emails require responses, which are just FYIs,and which are spam. For the emails that require responses, it then takes additional time and manual effort to prioritize which ones need the most immediate action.

Using natural language processing and understanding, AI can take system support to a completely new level.AI can interpret the context of emails and triage based on urgency, suggesting to users which ones they should to act on first, and even assist with responses. For example, when a sales person says that he needs the latest company presentation for tomorrow, AI can suggest the latest version of the deck to share and package it up into a pre-filled response.

AI also can prioritize content search based on relevance to the user. AI takes into consideration the job title of the user, active projects and assignments the user is working on, and other more nuanced factors. Instead of searching by name, type and/or date, users can use AI to more naturally search for the content, reducing time spent and energy wasted.

So, what’s next?

Information overload will never fully go away. On the contrary, it will get progressively worse with the exponential increase in information we face today. However, with AI and intelligent information management, managing the growing amount of information will be less chaotic. 

AI will become the digital assistant of the workplace, fully automating the way businesses store, manage, and search for their information. And it will provide detailed support to the single user in performing day-to-day tasks, eliminating routine tasks and boosting productivity.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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